The Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has arrived in Rosyth to be drydocked for repairs. As first reported by the UK Defence Journal, the vessel broke down off the Isle of Wight in August after it set sail for the United States. Since it was unable to continue the mission sister-ship HMS Queen Elizabeth deployed instead.
According to the Royal Navy in a statement, inspections by divers revealed the shaft coupling had failed and the “fastest and safest way” to fix the massive warship was to return the vessel to the drydock in which it was assembled at the Babcock yard in Rosyth.
“The aircraft carrier is heading for Rosyth for work on her starboard (right-hand) propeller shaft which suffered a mechanical defect as the ship left for New York last month. Inspections by divers revealed the shaft coupling had failed. The fastest and safest way to repair it and return the ship to operations will mean the carrier will enter dry dock in Rosyth, one of the few yards capable of accommodating the 65,000-tonne warship.”
Timescale for repairs still unknown
The Royal Navy stated that since the aircraft carrier returned to Portsmouth Naval Base in early September, the ship’s engineers had been working with divers and expert naval architects and engineers from Babcock – who run the dockyard at Rosyth – and the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation to work out what is needed to return HMS Prince of Wales back to operations.
“The extent of and the timescale for the repairs will not be fully known until the ship is in dry dock and has been thoroughly inspected by engineers, but the goal is to return HMS Prince of Wales to front-line operations as quickly and safely as possible. In the meantime the mighty 33-ton starboard propeller was removed ahead of her journey to the Firth of Forth.”
Top brass remains optimistic
The Royal Navy were also keen to point out in their statement that the ship had sailed from Portsmouth with a full complement of crew – 750 men and women – who will remain with the ship and continue training for renewed operations as well as supporting the maintenance package while in Rosyth.
“While alongside in Rosyth, they will continue to crew and train on the ships systems for their operational roles while also taking advantage of their temporary new home’s stunning Scottish landscape to undertake leadership and adventurous training activities during the autumn and winter months.”
Prior to departing Plymouth for Scotland, ship’s Captain, Richard Hewitt, was quoted as saying:
“While our plans to push the boundaries of the UK’s carrier innovation are temporarily on hold, I am immensely proud of the ship’s company who have risen to the challenge of preparing for repairs while facing the short-term disappointment of a postponed deployment. Now that the initial engineering challenges have been overcome to allow us to sail, we will transit to Rosyth where we will continue to work hard with our industry partners in the dockyard to ensure the shaft is repaired as quickly as possible and return HMS Prince of Wales to the front line to continue her operations.”
While under repair, her autumn programme, which included operating with F-35B Lightnings, MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, and drones off the Eastern Seaboard of the USA is being rescheduled for 2023.
Thank you to Dave Cullen Photography for allowing us the use of the fantastic image of the aircraft carrier entering Rosyth.